When El Chapo was arrested in January of last year, the controlling spot of Mexico's illegal drug market went up for grabs. El Mencho wasted no time.
With El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel out of the way, El Mencho and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG, began their rise to power.
CJNG have only been in operation for about five years, but they have moved at such a fast pace and with such aggression that they have already become the controlling cartel in the country. The power and control that took El Chapo and Sinaloa a full generation to achieve has been matched by El Mencho and CJNG in just half of a decade.
A classified Mexican intelligence report said, "[CJNG] have increased their operations like no other criminal organization to date."
In May, Mexico's attorney general, Raúl Cervantes, declared CJNG the nation's largest and most influential cartel.
Some experts estimate that the cartel is worth $20 billion.
A former DEA agent who spent years hunting the cartel in Mexico said, "These guys have way more money than Sinaloa. Mencho has been very, very aggressive – and so far, unfortunately, it's paid off."
CJNG focus and specialize in methamphetamine and have focused much of their work in the European and Asian markets. Due to this focus, El Mencho has maintained a low profile in the United States.
However, this has not kept him anonymous. El Mencho has been indicted in a Washington D.C. federal court on a variety of charges including drug trafficking and murder.
After El Chapo was arrested in 2016, Mexico's homicide rate increased by over 20 percent, including 20,000 murders last year. The trend has continued this year, with it going up 30 percent.
Thousands of these murders are believed to be the result of CJNG's push for power and control. Authorities have found mass graves in many of the areas where the cartel has been especially aggressive.
Despite all of this, El Mencho is essentially a ghost.
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